One Writer’s Journey

January 9, 2019

Characters: Making Them Three-Dimensional and Realistic

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:58 am
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Earlier in the week, I was reading a Writer’s Digest guest post by teen author Lorena Koppel. In her post, “From YA to YEAH: 4 Ways to Keep Teen & Young Adult Readers Hooked,” she discusses a variety of things, including unrealistic dialogue, that turn off young readers. Among the topics in dialogue she discussed is “codeswitching.”

Code-switching, if you don’t know the term, is when someone switches between languages or dialects depending on who they are talking to. When I worked at the university, I saw this with the international students.  When they were talking to me, they spoke English.  When a group of Russian students spoke to each other, they spoke Russian.

When Koppel uses this linguistic term, she is referring to the different ways that we each speak to different people.  It may not be a matter of a whole different language or even a dialect but simply how formally we speak to one person vs another.  If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, you’ve seen this in the difference between how the Crowley sisters speak to their mother or father vs how they speak to each other.  Then there’s the switch that occurs when they speak to one of the servants.  The same thing occurs when the servants speak to each other vs a member of the family.

If you employ code-switching in your manuscript, your dialogue will not only be more realistic, your characters will also be multi-dimensional.  A pair of twelve-year-old cousins will use one vocabulary and set of behaviors with each other and another with their peers.  The way they speak with and behavior toward their teacher will be more formal and different from how they behave toward an adult they don’t know.  Add in a lack of trust and you can change things up yet again.

The reality is that no one acts one set way with absolutely everyone.  But too often our characters behave and speak in one way and only one way.  Use code-switching to make your characters more engaging and also more realistic.

–SueBE

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November 1, 2016

November’s PAD Challenge

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:11 am
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machine-1311359_1920Maybe you aren’t a novelist.  Maybe you are, like me, facing a deadline.  Maybe the thought of writing 1600+ words a day just doesn’t do much for you.  If so, you probably aren’t participating in NaNoWriMo.  And that’s cool.

But if you’re still interested in a November writing challenge, then check out Writer’s Digests Poem-a-Day Chapbook Challenge.  Editor Robert Lee Brewer heads this event and it works something like this:

  • Beginning today, November 1, Brewer will post a daily prompt and a corresponding poem.
  • Paricipants then write a poem based on this prompt.
  • The challenge ends 24 hours after the last prompt is posted.
  • In December, participants edit and rewrite their poems to create a chapbook.  Participants have until 1/15/2017 to submit a 10-20 page manuscript. The winner is announced by 3/20/2017.
  • No registration required.

I have participated but I have to admit that I’ve never used my poems to create a book that I then submitted.  Stephanie Finke and I have discussed the problems that she and I have with challenges like PAD Chapbook and NaNoWriMo.  There are just too many rules and restrictions.  When reined in that tightly, she and I both have a tendency to resist.

If this challenge is a good match for you – why not give it a try.  If you just want to write the poems and submit them to various children’s magazines, wouldn’t it be nice to have 30 or so poems to shop around?

–SueBE

April 19, 2016

We Have a Winner

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:59 am
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Star, Bronze, Winner, Award, Metal, Success, MetallicPeriodically I mention a post that I’ve written for The Muffin. That’s the blog over at WOW! Women on Writing.  There are a team of us who blog there and we just got some great news.  We won placement in the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites award again for 2016!   Woo-hoo!  

Check it out and you’ll find a wide variety of posts on writing.

Margo Dill recently wrote about her path to becoming a children’s writer (here).

Guest blogger Karen Cioffi blogged about the tiny steps we can all take to promote our platforms.

Renee Roberson shared 4 Tips on using Instagram as a writer.

And we have a full range of writers.  Some of us write novels.  Some of us write nonfiction.  We publish traditionally and self-publish.  We write for children and adults.  Because of this, we have a wide ranging audience.

Between the list of regular bloggers and guest bloggers, you’ll find a new post every day.  The great things about blogging as part of a group is that the pressure isn’t all on one person to create a consistently amazing blog.  And if you have an emergency, someone on the crew can step forward and post on your day so that you have the break you need to deal with whatever happened.

If you don’t want to maintain your own blog, look for a group blog.  Find out how they select their writers.  You could also team up with a friend or two and create a new group blog.  Writing is such a solitary experience that it is especially rewarding when you find a group of like minded souls.

–SueBE

 

April 23, 2014

Writer’s Digest: Kids and Teens issue now available

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:42 am
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Just a quick heads up to let you know that the Writer’s Digest special issue on writing for kids and teens (May/June 2014) is now available.  It is packed with a wide variety of information including the following articles:

Sell Your Picture Book acknowledges that this market is growing and shares tips on how to break in by agent Lara Perkins.

Middle-Grade vs. Young Adult: Making the Grade covers the most important differences in writing for these two audiences.

Standout Series Characters for Young Readers explains how to build series characters with staying power.

Your Web Presence by web-guru Lee Wind explains the key elements to connecting with your young readers.

The WD Interview with Dave Barry

Exploring the World of Steampunk by Jay Lake is the column that I’m really looking forward to reading.

You can purchase your copy online today.

–SueBE

November 10, 2011

Free E-books from Writer’s Digest

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:26 am
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I had this week’s posts all planned out and drafted when this came to my attention, but it couldn’t wait because the offer expires this Saturday (11/12).  In the NaNoWriMo spirit, Writer’s Digest is giving away 7 of their how-to titles as e-books.

Don’t have an e-book reader?  Don’t panic.  You can get free Kindle reading apps here.  I used the Windows PC version to take advantage of these offers.

But back to the books.  Writer’s Digest is giving away e-book editions of:

  • Write That Book Already! The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now by Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen
  • Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney
  • Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One by Les Edgerton
  • How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play by Barbara Baig
  • Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
  • The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, 5th edition, by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier
  • The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 2nd edition, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest

I have, of course, downloaded a copy of each.  Why is Writer’s Digest giving them away?  IMO (not at all humble) they hope you will fall in love with one of these books and want to buy a print copy.

Available e-book version include:

  • Kindle
  • Nook
  • Google
  • Sony eReader
  • iTunes
  • Kobo
Special thanks to Kristi Holl who brought this offer to my attention.
–SueBE

November 3, 2011

“How to Avoid Parenting Your Characters” in the Writer’s Digest Newsletter

Warning: Happy Dance in progress.

I was a little confused yesterday morning when I opened one of my e-mails.

(I’m paraphrasing here.)

“Really liked your article, How to Avoid Parenting Your Characters, from Writer’s Digest newsletter. Thank you!”

How had I missed that?  Simple, it was in the same batch of messages.

So two pieces of good news.

I’m not loosing my mind (or at least this wasn’t a symptom).

My article, “How to Avoid Parenting Your Characters,” was the headline piece in the 11/1/2011 Writer’s Digest e-mail newsletter.  You can read the article here.

Now to take my joy, joy happy feelings and go add three pages to my middle grade!

–SueBE

January 18, 2011

Writer’s Digest and Me

Right around Christmas I got an unexpected check.  Why F&W Media would be sending me a nice sum for a “Writer’s Workbook” reprint of a CWIM article, I didn’t know.

They have the right to reprint the material as long as they pay me so I knew that was what had happened.  As soon as I got everyone back in school or off to the office, I’d send a few e-mails and find out where my work had or was going to appear.

Then last week, before I had a chance to e-mail, I got a big, beautiful envelope from Writer’s Digest.  My article, “How to Avoid Parenting Your Characters,” is on pages 60 to 62.  Check it out and you’ll have the opportunity to learn from some of your fellow authors — Jan Czech, Bree Despain, Esther Hershenhorn, A.S. King, Kristin Wolden Nitz, Syndey Salter, and Judy Young. This is especially timely since King  just took a Printz honor.

Isn’t nice when the publishing world delivers a nice surprise to your door step?

–SueBE

July 20, 2009

If only . . . I knew what to write

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:50 am
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ideaAre you one of those writers who needs someone to jump start your Muse?  Then check out Promptly, the new Writer’s Digest blog focused on delivering a variety of prompts.  Submit what you write based on these prompts to win a variety of prizes. 

Stop on by to see what editor Zachary Petit comes up with to stimulate your writing.

–SueBE

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